Sep 6, 2001
Flying to Montreal from Finland to begin pre-season preparations, Saku Koivu began to become extremely ill.
"He was pretty pale, not looking well at all, kept saying he had pains in his stomach, and vomiting." Canadiens forward, Brian Savage, who was on the same flight as Saku, told the media Wednesday. Reports in Montreal as early as Monday had Saku Koivu, the star-crossed captain of the Canadiens suffering from a ‘mysterious illness’.
Koivu visited team physician David Mulder, who, after hearing the symptoms, assumed that Saku had appendicitis. Preliminary tests, including an ultrasound showed that Koivu’s appendix was fine, but there was a mysterious fluid inside his abdominal cavity.
"We made a small incision, and withdrew 25 to 30 cc’s of the fluid, and ran a battery of tests on it, and found malignant cells within the fluid." Dr. Mulder told the press on Thursday, at a press conference in Montreal. Dr. Mulder also told the press that, although there were cancerous cells in his abdominal cavity. Koivu could not be treated "until we find out what the correct diagnosis is." The cells could have come from the Lymph system, or any other place in the abdominal cavity.
Koivu, an immensely talented centre for the Canadiens, had 17 goals and 47 points in only 54 games last season, and, sadly, is used to sitting. Koivu, while very skilled, has been injured more often in his six seasons in the league than he would care to count. Drafted 21st overall in 1993, Koivu has had a truly up and down career, not having played a full season since 1995/96, his rookie season in the league, in which he netted 45 points. The next season, playing in 50 games, the Finn, whose style of play has given him the nickname Fireball in some Montreal circles, recorded 56 points.
Aside from his rookie season, Saku has never topped 20 goals or 70 games played. He is a great stick handler and passer, and his playmaking ensures he had always had 30 assists, except for his rookie season, and the 1999-2000 season, where he only played in 24 games, but was still able to get 21 points for himself. In 290 games, Koivu has 68 goals, along with 155 assists for a total of 223 points. Standing at 5 foot 10 inches, and weighing around 185 pounds, Saku has also racked up a few penalty minutes for himself, 178 in those 290 games. Not bad for a little guy.
At the press conference Thursday, Dr. Mulder said that Koivu and his fiancée, Hanna, would like to be as private as possible during this ordeal. On behalf of everyone at hockeyfights.com, I would like to extend my best wishes on a speedy recovery, and hope to see Saku Koivu back in the league as soon as he is ready, the Fireball Blazing.
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